Early in the morning, we transited the Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River dropping approximately 100ft and then had a lovely brunch. We arrived at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers and took Zodiacs ashore to the Sacagawea State Park. The Confluence area was significant to the Indigenous people of the region for millennia as a place to gather and trade. This particular spot was also historically significant to the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which camped here in October of 1805 and surveyed the confluence area. Half of us started with a visit to the REACH Museum with exhibits on the natural, cultural, and scientific history of Hanford Reach and the Columbia Basin area, while the other group took in Sacagawea State Park, the interpretive center, and the Confluence Project installation by Maya Lin. We then switched so everyone could enjoy both sites.
National Geographic Sea Lion
Meandering up the Snake River opened a new chapter to our voyage. Golden grasslands interrupted by towering basalt columns filled the horizon. As daybreak crested, the peaks before us were illuminated in a soft golden hue. The landscape drew us in and beckoned us to explore. After a short and scenic bus ride, we arrived at Palouse Falls State Park. While the impressive 198 ft waterfall was clearly the main attraction, walks in the area provided stunning views of the channeled scablands that we’re traveling through. It was incredible to imagine the events that sculpted the land before us. The raw power of the Earth was on full display. For the afternoon, we set out in expedition landing craft and shot up the Palouse River. The rich riparian banks held an abundance of wildlife. Songbirds flitted about while waterfowl gave way. Raptors circled overhead, looking for their next meal. Above a set of steep cliffs, two golden eagles circled, icons of this open land. Perhaps the most exciting moment was when a coyote ran up the slopes right in front of us, posing to take in the odd creatures visiting its home. The river and its tributaries continue to offer a vast variety of experiences to us. As the final day of our voyage approaches, we settle into the night in awe of what we have seen thus far.